Preview Sport

NRL Round 20 Preview

We are just six weeks out from the NRL finals, and it’s a round with a pair of huge blockbusters! Let’s get into this week’s preview.

Sydney Roosters vs Parramatta Eels

The Eels were abysmal without Mitchell Moses last week. Despite playing a bottom eight team in the Raiders, they scored their lowest points total of the season. Defensively, they were solid, but they can expect the Roosters to throw more at them, and with Moses out again, won’t have the firepower to go with it.

The Roosters are facing an injury crisis in the outside backs, but have still scored 84 points in the last three weeks. With a top-four spot on the line and this game being critical to that outcome, expect the Roosters to pick up the win.

Roosters by 10. $3.60 at PlayUp

Wests Tigers vs New Zealand Warriors

The Warriors are facing a monumental injury crisis, to go with Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Leeson Ah Mau leaving the team. Tohu Harris, Wayde Egan, Chad Townsend, Addin Fonua-Blake, Jack Murchie and Matt Lodge are all missing totalling well over 750 games of experience sitting on the sidelines.

The Tigers have hardly been excellent, but scoring 42 against the Broncos a fortnight ago and 24 against the Sea Eagles last time out proves they can score points. The Tigers defence is abysmal, but they are unlikely to have much thrown at them. With their own attack against the fifth-worst defence in the competition without five who usually play in the middle third, they should find a way to get the job done.

Tigers by 12. $3.15 at PlayUp

Brisbane Broncos vs North Queensland Cowboys

A battle of two struggling Queensland teams. The Cowboys were able to take the Storm all the way to the finish line last week, but their record away from Townsville is about as abysmal as it gets. Todd Payten’s side has won just a single game out of seven away from home.

Given they make the fourth-most errors and second-highest amount of missed tackles in the competition, it’s hard to see them turning things around here. Brisbane isn’t a great deal better, but pushed the Panthers last week and have wins over the Sharks and Roosters in the last two months. 

Broncos by 6. $3.20 at PlayUp

St George Illawarra Dragons vs South Sydney Rabbitohs

The Dragons have been forced to make more tackles than any other team this season, and given they are third for errors and 12th for both possession and set completion, maybe that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Red V struggled enormously against the Titans last week and have let in 64 points in the last two weeks against Manly without Tom Trbojevic and the Gold Coast.

South Sydney, on the other hand, have scored 222 points in their last five games at over 45 per contest. That, combined with the Dragons inability to have an equal share of possession, is a recipe for a blowout, even with no Cameron Murray for Wayne Bennett’s side.

Rabbitohs by 32. $1.32 at PlayUp

Newcastle Knights vs Canberra Raiders

The Raiders have turned things around in a big way, winning three straight to keep their hopes of a finals berth alive. Particularly impressive over the mini-run has been their defence, letting in just 44 points in three weeks. Given the Knights have the competition’s second-worst defence, that should make this a straightforward game to tip.

The Knights have been forced to spend far too much time in defence, making the third-highest number of tackles, and the Raiders, who have the second-best attack of teams in the bottom eight, will have too much.

Raiders by 16. $5.10 at PlayUp

Melbourne Storm vs Penrith Panthers

Billed as a blockbuster between the competition’s top two teams, the Panthers haven’t been themselves without Nathan Cleary. After a pair of losses during the Origin window, even Jarome Luai’s return couldn’t see them blast past the Broncos, only winning by six. 

The Storm also had an off week last week, only just going past the Cowboys, but that could also be put down to the Townsville factor. Before that, Melbourne had gone past 40 four weeks in a row, and while Penrith’s defence is the competition’s best, it’s hard to see them having the attacking weapons to go with the Storm.

Storm by 8. $3.40 at PlayUp

Canterbury Bulldogs vs Gold Coast Titans

The Bulldogs have the worst attack in the competition by a considerable distance. Meanwhile, the Titans have the competition’s best attack outside of the top six teams, who are virtually all already locked into the finals. 

That should create a blitz here, and while Canterbury has shown some promising signs in the past weeks, the Titans will be desperate as they attempt to qualify for the finals. David Fifita has scored in each of the last four games for the Titans.

Titans by 22. $1.88 at PlayUp

Cronulla Sharks vs Manly Sea Eagles

There is a general belief that the top six teams don’t lose to the rest, but this isn’t as clear cut as it might seem. Manly make more handling errors than any other team and will need to hold onto the ball against a Sharks team who can put points on against sloppy defensive outfits, as they did against the Bulldogs last week.

In saying that, Cronulla miss more tackles than any other team. With Tom Trbojevic averaging more than three try involvements per game, on the back of five tackle busts and almost two line breaks per contest, he should be the difference.

Sea Eagles by 14. $1.58 at PlayUp


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